|Me - and my Disneyland Holiday hat|
It was the trip to end all trips.
That magical place that only existed in my dreams.
My Dad had come up with the plan, mostly because we had been everywhere else on the western half of the continent.
We kids were . . . ummm . . . a bit enthusiastic.
And we were going over Christmas, so none of that pesky waiting for Christmas morning. Instead, we took care of all of that days earlier.
We handed over the reins of ranch management to a young couple, packed up the truck and camper (nothing but first class here!) and headed out.
At first, singing and then talking about the wonderful and exciting experiences that were before us, sufficed to keep us entertained. Then book reading, desultory (real word) conversation and looking out the window.
By the way, looking out the window was my Mom's favorite pastime on our car trips. Mom was decidedly predictable.
Sort of like my car sickness. But that is another story . . .
Christmas day was . . . different.
We couldn't find a Denny's.
And no other restaurants were open.
Dad finally found what could only be deemed a 'Greasy Spoon' or 'Dive' and we ate surprisingly good burgers and fries.
For Christmas dinner.
Then we were again on the road.
As we drove further and further south, the weather grew noticeably warmer. Slowly, layers of clothing were shed. By the time we reached Los Angeles, we were down to just one layer. (Unless you count our underwear, but we all know how I felt about that . . .)
We stopped at Marineland.
And Knotts Berry Farm
And Hurst Castle. Which I loved and where I would gladly have taken up residence.
Except that the guards found me.
Guards definitely don't have a sense of humor.
Or paternal instincts.
Then, finally, Disneyland.
Dad managed to find a parking spot at the outer rim of the lot, quite near Canada, actually and we trudged with purpose towards . . . the Great Gates.
The doorway to magic land.
The entrance to dream world.
Access to . . .
You get the picture.
At that point in time, one did not buy a 'pass'. That would have been . . . convenient.
Instead, we all got coupon books.
There was a section of 'first run' attractions. A section with 'lesser', but almost as popular. And several sections after that.
The 'Haunted Mansion' had just opened.
Does that date me a bit?
The only problem was that this was the first sunny day in Los Angeles for several weeks.
And the entire population of the planet had suddenly decided that Disneyland was the place to be.
We had to share our magical world with 70,000 other people.
The line-ups were so long that choosing which ride to go on was not a matter of which was the most exciting, but which was the most available.
My brother and I stood for 3 hours to see the Haunted Mansion. The entire afternoon.
Oh, it was definitely worth it, even though George refused to go in the same car with me and I had to be frightened out of my wits all by myself.
For some reason, he had a problem with me wrapping my arms around his neck and screaming into his ear.
Brothers are weird.
After that, things are rather a blur.
I remember seeing Lincoln giving an address.
The real Lincoln. Somehow, Disney had convinced him to come out of retirement (ie: death) and perform for us.
We went on a few 'ride' rides that didn't have enormous lineups.
And, at sundown, went for a romantic ride on the Mark Twain riverboat.
Yes, I'm sure the sign said 'romantic'.
I was, again, with George.
Who told me to stay on my side of the boat.
Okay, so, what did he think I was going to do? Cuddle up to him and coo in his ear like all of the other people were doing?
I remember eating a lot.
But then, I always remember the food.
And I remember thinking it was the best day of my life.
We only had one day there, but there were no complaints because Dad then took us to San Francisco and we got to ride the trolley car and tramp around Alcatraz Island.
And I got a shirt that said 'Property of Alcatraz - Unlisted Number' which I thought was hilarious.
And then, home. Which was an adventure all by itself.
We hit high winds near Pocatello, Idaho that nearly tipped us over, so Dad and the rest of the family parked in a campground with the truck's nose facing into the wind to keep it from performing gymnastics.
And he put George and I on the bus home.
Apparently, the couple looking after the ranch had to leave.
All I knew was that I got to ride on a Greyhound.
Okay, it was with my brother, but why haggle over details?
It was the perfect end to a perfect trip.
There is an addendum . . .
This summer, we were camping with our good friends and the topic of Disneyland came up.
They've been several times.
I described my own experience.
They stared at me in disbelief. "You mean you only got to go to one major attraction?!"
I described the circumstances again.
More incredulity (another real word). "You drove all that way and hardly got to do anything?!"
And for the first time, I thought about that.
Huh. We had only gone on one main ride. We had wandered round the place and seen a lot of other people going on other rides. We had eaten treats and watched exciting things.
And it had been a very long drive.
Nope, it was still worth it.
The best holiday, ever!